Pilots at Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO) won an important battle when a developer withdrew a land swap proposal that would have allowed about 4,000 homes to be built next to the airport near Washington, D.C.
The proposal faced strong opposition from the community and local pilots. In February, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors turned down the proposal, citing some arguments made by AOPA, but the developer was given an opportunity to regroup. He had aggressively approached the board during recent weeks, but last Tuesday he walked away from the proposal, ensuring that the land around the airport remains protected for now.
"This was another instance in which a general aviation airport that saw unprecedented growth in its surrounding community was the preferred 'green space' alternative to new development," said Roger Cohen, AOPA vice president of regional affairs.
AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Jim Firmani and member Dennis Boykin, backed by AOPA headquarters staff, worked to educate the supervisors about the value of the airport and the problems associated with building a residential development so close to the facility.
In their decision against the proposal, the supervisors cited the value of the airport to the local economy and noted that residential development near an airport tends to strangle its future growth, as AOPA explained in a letter to the supervisors earlier this year.
"This victory could be a 'case history' of how pilots can team up with elected officials and other community interests to help preserve and protect airports as valuable contributors to the local community, economy, and landscape," Cohen said.
May 25, 2005